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Liver Fluke: Treatment At This Time of Year Can Put A Spring in Your Flock’s Step All Year Round, By Helping to Break The Fluke Cycle & Reduce Levels On Farm

Rachel Mallet BVM&S MRCVS, Bimeda Vet & Bimeda Territory Manager, writes on the important role that adult fluke treatment at this time of year can play in helping farmers to break the fluke cycle on their farm’.

While most sheep farmers will associate liver fluke with autumn and winter, and with acutely sick animals, it is important that we do not forget about fluke this spring, nor miss a key window to reduce the significance of this costly parasite on our farms.

In the late spring and early summer all liver fluke infecting sheep will be adults. Adult fluke live in the gall bladder and bile ducts of the liver, and cause chronic disease. They lay fluke eggs which pass out of the sheep in faeces. The symptoms of chronic fluke are:

  • Loss of condition,
  • Emaciation,
  • Bottle jaw,
  • Anaemia
  • Increased susceptibility to other diseases.

Chronic fluke is diagnosed on clinical signs and faecal examination in the lab to pick up the fluke eggs. It can also be diagnosed at post mortem.

Liver Fluke Burden With No Obvious Symptoms

Sheep can carry burdens of liver fluke with no symptoms of disease so it important to arrange with your vet to take faecal samples of your flock at this time of year. This has to be kept in mind throughout Britain as changing weather patterns bring warmer, wetter weather right across the country, increasing the prevalence of fluke outside the ‘traditionally wet’ areas of the north and west.

While it is obviously critical to rid sheep of adult fluke which are causing chronic liver fluke, it is equally important to rid the sheep of mature egg-laying adult fluke which are not causing obvious symptoms in the sheep. This is vital in order to prevent the pasture being seeded with fluke eggs, and to thus stop the mud snail from propagating and multiplying the fluke problem. This is even more important given the mild and wet climate we have experienced recently in the UK.

Appropriate Product Selection

For a late spring/early summer treatment which product should we use? The correct product to use in sheep at this time of the year is one which targets only adult fluke, as there should be no immature fluke in-situ. It is critical that only the adult fluke present are targeted, to avoid the over-use flukicides which target all the stages of fluke. The untargeted use of broad-spectrum flukicides can contribute to the development of resistance, which is a critical issue for farming both in in the UK and further afield.

Therefore, Albendazole-containing products such as Endospec 10% are an ideal, efficacious and ethical way for sheep farmers to control and halt the liver fluke cycle this spring. Albendazole is effective against adult liver fluke, but not against immature or early immature fluke. It is therefore highly suitable for this targeted treatment of fluke in the UK in the late spring and early summer.

A springtime dose will prevent the summer grazing pasture being seeded with fluke eggs. Along with other control options such as drainage or fencing off of all wet land this can have massive benefits to flock health and can help prevent sub-acute and acute fluke in the autumn and winter, as well as chronic fluke the following spring.

The targeted approach will also help prevent over-reliance on triclabendazole-based products in the autumn. Triclabendazole -based products such as Endofluke are the only flukicides to cover all three stages of liver fluke including early immature and immature fluke and therefore they are needed to treat and prevent acute fluke disease caused by immature fluke in the autumn. Due to increased fluke levels they are being used more frequently and resistance to them is building. Therefore targeting mature fluke in the spring with Endospec 10% or other albendazole containing products has not just a positive effect on sheep for the summer but can also have positive benefits for preserving the efficacy of other classes of flukicides and for preventing losses in the autumn.

Usage

The fluke dose rate of Endospec 10% is just 3mls per 40kg and this rate also covers gastro-intestinal worms including nematodirus battus and tape-worms (moniezia species). Bimeda have recently introduced a new Endospec 10% dispensing applicator for sheep, which is ideal for accurately and conveniently delivering the required small dosage to sheep this spring. Endospec 10% is an efficacious and affordable option for treating fluke this spring, which is now even easier to administer, thanks to the introduction of this new applicator.

Cattle & Fluke At This Time of Year

Cattle farmers should also monitor for adult fluke through faecal testing and treat if necessary at this time of year. Endospec 10% has a convenient low dose rate of 1ml per 10kg for cattle and a short meat withdrawal of 14 days. In addition, it can be used in lactating dairy cows with a milk withdrawal period of just 4 days. It is also licensed against lungworms, ostertagia including immature stages, and lung worms in cattle.


About the Author

Rachel Mallet is a Veterinary Surgeon, who now works as a Vet and Territory Manager for Bimeda. Rachel is passionate about animal health and about promoting best practice amongst farmers and animal owners.

Use Medicines Responsibly. Noah.co.uk

Endospec 10% is a POM-VPS medicine, containing albendazole 100mg/ml selenium 1.08mg/ml, and cobalt 2.5mg/ml. Endofluke is a POM-VPS Medicine, containing triclabendazole 100mg/ml.Full product details, including contra-indications, can be found on the SPC which is available on the VMD website.

Date editorial prepared: February 2016. Bimeda can be contacted on 01248 725 400 or at Unit 2, Bryn Cefni Industrial Park, Llangefni, LL777XA